Kep City is a municipality in Cambodia with the status of a province. Kep is just a few kilometres from the border with Vietnam located and used to be Cambodia’s most popular beach town but has fallen on hard times in recent years (especially due to the Khmer Rouge). Many of Kep’s, mostly French villas are abandoned, but some of the town’s former splendour is still apparent.
The see is lined with huge sidewalks and some large statues that now seem largely out of place. The king built a palace overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never furnished and now sits empty. A good, paved road connects the small town with the 15km far away Kampot. The slightly darker beaches than in Sihanoukville are mostly scattered with mangroves and black rocks, but Koh Thonsay (Rabbit Island) is just a short boat ride away (approx. 1/2h).
Kep appears to be experiencing something of a renaissance, with several mid-range and luxury guesthouses and bungalows recently opened or still under construction. The seafood is cheap, plentiful and delicious – particularly the quite famous crabs. Kep is also home to an extensive national park covering some mountains with deep green jungle.
The French established Kep City during the colonial time in 1908. Today Kep is mainly popular to the domestic tourists, who choose Kep as their holiday destination. What’s more, Kep offers great seafood and magnificent views of the mountains and the beaches.
Taking a boat to the nearby islands is also a breathtaking experience. Another itinerary, which must not be missed, is an excursion to the serene waterfalls of ‘Tuk Chhou” situated about 10 km from Kampot. Kep City is located in the Southwest of Phnom Penh. The city is accessible by the National Road No 3 from Phnom Penh via Kampot province (173 km) or by the National Road No 2 from Phnom Penh via Takeo province.
Especially during the Sixties, during the time of Sang Kum Reas Ni Yum the city was developed as a beautiful seaside tourist resort for the rich and government. The story related to the name of Kep said that there was a king named Sa Kor Reach, who had a mighty spell. He put a sleeping spell on a commander at AngKor Thum, than stole the commander’s white horse and fled together with his troop to the Southwestern seaside.
When he took a rest at the seaside, he was overhauled by the commander’s troops, who chased him from behind. Suddenly, he got on the horseback; the horse reared, and made him fall down on the ground together with the saddle. Then, he got on the horseback again and fled away without picking up the saddle, because the commander’s troops almost approached him. So that’s why this area was called ‘ Kep Seh ‘ meaning ‘ the saddle ‘, nowadays it’s only called ‘ Kep ‘.
Kep City municipality is 336 square kilometres big. It’s located in the South of the country and is bordering to the North, East and West with Kampot and to the South with the Gulf of Thailand. The province has not so much typical plain wet area like other provinces of Cambodia, as there are some foothills from the Elephant Mountains coming from Kampot province. You can see not so sparse grey limestone hills akin to the Vietnamese ones. Nevertheless there are areas covered with rice fields and other agricultural plantations.
The current population in this municipality is about 40,280 people or 0,3% of the country?s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 20,130 male and 20,150 female. The population density is therefore 119 people per square kilometre.
The country has a tropical climate – warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.
– Cool season: November- March (20-26c)
– Hot season: March- May (29c -34c)
– Rainy season: May – October (22-30c, with humidity up to 90%.)
Beside the profitable fruit cropping such as durian, mango or coconut Kampot Pepper, which is also grown in Kep, has been renowned for decades as one of the best peppers in the world. This pepper has a very distinct flavour and smell, especially when its fresh harvested.
It develops an enthralling aroma, strong, delicate and aromatic. Therefore it is famous in the world and exported to many countries. Kep also tries more and more to focus on the tourist sector, as there is quite a lot of interest by local people and by foreigners, who still can discover Kep and it?s rural countryside as a very natural, remote and docile place being situated on the beautiful costal line of Cambodia.
There are many Bus companies like Giant Ibis, Mekong Express, PSD Xpress, Sorya Bus, Neak Krohorm, Thero Express (15-seat), Larryta, KSO, Virak Buntham, Kampot Express, Cambodia Post VIP Van offering bus/van services to Kep town using modern air-conditioned buses/vans. Buses/vans depart every 15 minutes to one hour, daily from 6am-12pm mid night. The prices are reasonable. Online Bus ticket can be purchased in advance.
Phnom Penh to Kep or v.v [Book Now]
Sihanoukville to Kep or v.v [Book Now]
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Koh Kong to Kep or v.v [Book Now]
Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province.
The buses to Kampot departure each day at 7:30am and midday around 1:15pm from the central bus station near the central market (Sorya Bus Company; No 168). You may also take a bus directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy. The prices with a usual old air-con bus for both ways are around US$4 per a person and trip. The trip usually takes approx. 4-5h. To go back to Phnom Penh you just have to contact your guesthouse in Kep and they’ll organize everything for you with pleasure.
You can book the bus ticket by online from Phnom Penh to Kep or v.v in advance.
From Kampot: The road from Kampot to Kep is paved and smooth. 25km, 30-45 minute trip. Follow the road from Kampot to the White Horse Monument and turn right. At the next main turnoff, turn right to the beach/market area. Moto dups charge about $2-$3 one-way and $6 round trip.
You can book the bus ticket by online from Kampot to Kep or v.v in advance.
Going from Phnom Penh with a share taxi you can find one at Phsar Dumkor in Phnom Penh or opposite of central bus station. The prices are between 22,000 -28,000Riel/person or $26-$32 for a private taxi. The 3 hours ride is shorter as with the slowly bus.
Via paved and in comparative good condition National Highway No 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot and from there additional 25km to Kep via Major Road No 33. This road is more recommendable than the alternative National Highway No 2 leading to National Highway No 3 via Takeo province. You may also head directly to Kep taking National Highway No 2 and for the last strip Major Road No 31, which is a little bumpy and dusty during dry season.
The road from Kampot to Kep is paved and smooth. 25km, 30-45 minute trip. Follow the road from Kampot to the White Horse Monument and turn right. At the next main turnoff, turn again right to the beach/market area. You’re in the centre of the town.
Kep’s most popular tourist activity is having a fresh seafood picnic on the waterfront. The road opposite Kep Beach is lined with picnic platforms. Just rent a mat or find an empty platform and the vendors will present you fresh, sometimes still alive crabs, prawns, squid and fish from which you can choose. Be clear about how much food you want and the cost before they begin to prepare your meal. All of the other restaurants/bars in Kep are connected to the guesthouses.
The Crab Market in Kep is a perfect place to get all your seafood. There are plenty of small cosy restaurants which line the shore where you can eat and drink while watching the fishermen bring in their catch. Best time to pop in is for the magnificent sunset. All the seafood is fairly fresh! Ask for the Crab Curry or for the delicious stingray! Prices are quite reasonable. Enjoy it!
This restaurant offers a large selection of reasonably priced and tasty Western and Khmer food. Large range of fresh seafood. The full bar (including cappuccino machine) has a fantastic selection of fresh fruit juices and lots of cocktails. E.g. try the Teenycolada, an alcohol free cocktail!
The restaurant features lovely home cooked Khmer food with a big range of seafood. Western food is also available. The large dinning area can accommodate large groups as you may come with a bunch of people starving for fresh seafood.
This place offers a smaller range of food, but has a nice surrounding as it sits right next to the shore. The food is very delicious and comes at reasonable prices. The fresh prawns with Kampot pepper is a dish you shouldn?t miss here. It?s opened until 9:30pm.
The restaurant is located opposite of the major beach just right next to all the small bamboo shacks. It features a rooftop restaurant serving Khmer and Western food including seafood. There is also a stylish separate beachfront bar overlooking Kep Beach. The prices are upscale.
If you would like to shop some food, especially seafood you should head for the daily market next to the water’s edge. This is currently the only place you can find the basic needs for you household. Local shops deal the local daily consumer products, like fish, fruits, vegetables, meats and some packed products. If you need something special, e.g. medicine you’ll have to go to Kampot. To take something special from this place along, buy the famous pepper.